If I could travel anywhere, to any period of time, past, present or future, where would I go?
Insomnia is a good excuse to think about these things. And it is better to focus my mind on these types of questions than to drift into the usual paranoid worries about anything and everything, worries that never really materialize.
I would want to travel back in time, perhaps 200 years, maybe 500, to see the place I call home as it was then. I want to see the ancient white pines towering above me, to hear the wind whispering through the lofty branches, to see the first glint of sunrise shimmering on the dark green needles. How tall were they? How big were the trunks at the base? I have heard of stumps six feet across or more, giants long gone now. What was it like to walk beneath, my feet on a carpet of soft needles and humus undisturbed? What birds lived in these woods?
I want to see Sand Creek as a meandering, free flowing river, before it was ditched and straightened. Did it flow beneath pines or through sedge meadows and tamarack bogs? What did the water look like before logging and farming muddied it with silt and altered the base flows? I hear stories of three pound brook trout caught by local settlers in the early 1900's; the carrying capacity must have been much greater then.
I want to walk with the Ojibwe who lived here, who knew the seasons, who harvested blueberries and manoomin (wild rice) and fish and deer. I want to know the land like they did, to make the act of living and the act of worship indistinguishable from one another. I want to dance around a fire on a chilly November night, to celebrate the turning of the days and the turning of the seasons and the cycles of life that flow through us all.
I want to hear the howls of wolves, the laughing of coyotes; I want to see the moose, the elk, the lynx. I want to hear the wild calls of unknown birds echoing through the woods and across the lakes. I want to see the sturgeon, six foot long giants, run the rapids in the spring to spawn.
I want to see the wildflowers in early spring; I want to see meadows in full bloom, meadows of big bluestem untouched by knapweed and reed canary grass. I want to return to that place, a place both of innocence and of great wisdom. What knowledge have we lost along with the virgin white pines?
Today, incidentally, is the third anniversary of the day we came home to Sand Creek.